Monday, July 29, 2013

In death as in life, Arun Nehru .... Power & Politics / July 28, 2013/ The Sunday Standard



In death as in life, Arun Nehru remains the envy of many a wannabe politician


Arun is no more. But the idea of Arun Nehru still reverberates in the corridors of power. He had no ideology, but he was not a fence-sitter either. North Block’s high red stone walls still echo with the narrative which Arun wrote as India’s first Minister of State for internal security. His was an era of decisiveness. Now indecision rules the roost. He acquired power beyond his official designation, surveying Parliament from the window of his sprawling office. He was just a junior minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s government. But he was a Nehru of his own kind—a symbol of ruthless authority. He knew the art of using power to demolish adversaries, but was also one who stood by his friends. Unlike his paternal uncle Jawaharlal Nehru, the portly Arun was not an articulate and affable diplomat. He applied the dirty tricks of corporate salesmanship to politics, but is credited with giving the governments of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv a modern and business-like look.

At his unsung funeral on Friday, the beneficiaries of his munificence were conspicuous by their absence. Sonia Gandhi and her children, however, graciously turned up to show their emotional family bonding with the person who was perceived a betrayer. They humbly stood in the queue to accept condolences from Arun’s friends and relatives.
Most of the 200 persons who turned up at the Lodhi cremation ground were unanimous on Arun’s capacity to acquire information. For him, raw information was power, which he used effectively during his 10 years in active politics. Indira invited him to join politics after Sanjay’s death in May 1980. She wanted someone from the family to assist Rajiv learn the political ropes. Arun, Vijay Dhar and Arun Singh made up the troika that advised Rajiv on the party and the government structure. They had no clue to practical politics. Yet, Arun became the Gandhis’ most important adviser. Indira brought him in to neutralise the growing impact of R K Dhawan, who was seen as a political threat to Rajiv. As Rajiv acquired more responsibilities as the party general secretary, Arun became his political guru. As Punjab terrorism, growing corruption, inflation and the growth of regional satraps made things difficult for Indira, Rajiv and Arun began to tackle all such issues. It was Arun’s idea to marginalise the old guard and get proactive in government. He once confided in me that Rajiv’s success would depend on his ability to drop his mother’s political baggage, otherwise the cabal would ensure his failure. Both cousins decided to fix deadline and accountability, which was reflected in the 1982 Asian Games. Arun Nehru, Arun Singh and Rajiv took direct charge and ensured the event’s success.
Arun’s ruthlessness became apparent when he inherited Indira’s trait of crushing foes without batting an eyelid. As regional leaders became a major threat, both Rajiv and Arun decided to teach some of them a lesson. In July 1984, the Congress decided to get rid of NT Rama Rao’s government in Andhra Pradesh. Defections were encouraged. Though the cousins did not favour the move, they were told to implement it; governor Ram Lal, a Gandhi loyalist, was directed to swear in N Bhasker Rao as CM. Rao survived just 31 days and NTR came back. Arun ensured that Ram Lal, who botched up by giving false assurances, was dismissed. In the same month, Indira fell out with Farooq Abdullah and J&K governor Jagmohan was asked to dismiss him.
When Mrs Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, it was Arun’s strategy that made Rajiv PM. Along with Dhawan, he arrived at Palam airport to receive President Zail Singh returning from Yemen. Arun asked him to appoint Rajiv as the next PM; the formal meeting of the CPC would follow later. It was for the first time that a new PM was anointed without being elected as the leader of his party.
Arun’s skills as an administrator became visible after he became the internal security minister. All intelligence agencies reported to him. He conceptualised the Special Protection Group for the security of the PM and family members. Along with Arun Singh, he introduced new government departments and merged many into one. Both believed in a smaller government with clear, defined responsibilities. As his powers increased along with then finance minister V P Singh’s, Arun became the victim of feudal politics. They were blamed for undercutting Rajiv, who was misled by corporate and vested interests. When Arun suffered a heart attack while holidaying in Kashmir, most of his powers were taken away. A year later, V P Singh was removed as finance minister. They had lost both power and the Gandhi Parivar’s confidence. They became rebels and ensured that Rajiv lost power in 1989. Arun was the most powerful minister in V P Singh’s Cabinet, who stood firm on governance. When terrorists kidnapped Rubaiya Sayeed, Mufti Sayeed’s daughter, four days after he became home minister, Arun opposed the release of their jailed comrades in exchange for Rubaiya’s freedom. He was overruled. Later, when V P Singh opted for the Mandal Commission, Arun vehemently opposed it. Singh lost his government and Arun, being close to LK Advani, decided to join the BJP. Without a decisive role, however, he became a misfit in politics.
Until the end, however, he loved to gather political information. Political forecasting was his passion and Arun remained in touch with his contacts in the Congress and other parties. He also knew how not to live beyond his means. His name was associated with many scandals, none of which were proved to be true. He drove a Maruti, lived in a small farmhouse, which he had bought in early 1980s, and never regretted the loss of the aura of the Nehru pedigree. In death as in life, Arun remains the envy of many a wannabe politician who aspires to be a Nehru like him.
prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com; Follow me  on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Teekhi Baat with Bhupinder Singh Hooda _ IBN7 /July 27, 2013

"RAHUL is our PM Candidate and We will seek mandate in his name in Haryana" asserts state CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda - On Teekhi Baat 

video

Monday, July 22, 2013

Congress and BJP are fighting ... Power & Politics/ The Sunday Standard/ July 21, 2013



Congress and BJP are fighting to divide a united India along ominous lines


It’s tale of two national parties which even stellar storytellers are struggling to narrate to their captive audiences. Is the Congress pro-poor or pro-rich? Is the BJP a party of only Hindus or of all Indians? Is the Congress indulging in excessive minority appeasement or is it skirting the terrorism issue? Are both parties pro-economic reform of the same colour or not? Has the BJP forgotten its Swadeshi agenda to seem a weaker clone of the Congress? Has it moved away from its traditional Hindutva mantra containing issues like Ayodhya mandir, Article 370 and the Uniform Civil Code?

As the countdown to the state Assembly elections, followed by the General Elections, begins, both the Congress and BJP are looking for a Winning Identity Tag (WIT) to reap rich electoral dividends. The filthy war of words, which has erupted during the past few weeks between the parties, has nothing to do with their achievements and failures but is all about demolishing each other’s traditional identity. While the social, cultural and economic line dividing the top and middle level leadership of both parties is blurred, the fight for power is getting murkier and sharper. Interestingly, both are seriously involved in an internal war of posturing. For example, leaders in the Congress-led government, including the Prime Minister, who are talking about bold economic reforms, stimulus for the rich, free access for MNCs to Indian markets, are pitted against leaders in the party. The latter want the Food Security Bill, MGNREGS, minority reservation in jobs, as they feel only such welfare measures can retain their vote banks. Similarly, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and others who aren’t part of the BJP hierarchy are pushing for WIT by talking about Mandir and Hindutava. BJP General Secretary Amit Shah revived the Ram Mandir issue only to be rebutted later by party President Rajnath Singh, who made it clear that mandir and Article 370 weren’t part of the party’s political agenda.

The top leadership of both parties has realised that votes cannot be garnered on the basis of performance or failure. As they dig deep in the dirty political pit to extract a few saleable ideas to hawk to the masses, they are getting mired more and more in the mud. The more they talk about issues and individuals, the more they reflect their identity crisis. Although, political differentiation between various parties revolves around just two words—secularism and communalism—both the BJP and Congress are desperate to find that extra spin which would give them the edge. Predictably, Modi, a symbol of both hard Hindutava and development, set the ball rolling by calling himself a proud Hindu nationalist. Modi is known for choosing the right words at the right time for the right people. He defined his politico-religious identity in an interview to a foreign news agency, and not to an Indian media organisation. He followed up on his ideological narrative by accusing the Congress of hiding behind the secular burqa to cover up its all-round failures. Modi’s new mantra not only turned out to be a new election talking point for the ideologically starved BJP but also forced the Congress to get engaged in a debate to acquire a WIT. Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken accused Modi of dividing India by narrowing down the definition of nationalism to religion. After letting the nation debate be polarised along Hindu or non-Hindu nationalism lines, the Modi Sena quickly moved on to other issues. The party itself pulled down the hoardings of the Gujarat chief minister projecting himself as a proud Hindu nationalist, much faster than they were put up in prominent corners of Mumbai.
To shore up their economic ideology, lately the Congress and BJP are competing for the endorsement of foreign-educated Indian economists. Modi promoters have been heavily dependent on foreign-trained PR agencies to reposition him as the messiah of development. According to some BJP insiders, BJP’s corporate and social advisers have counselled a few middle-level party functionaries to promote economists of Indian origin as the credible brains behind a Modi-led government’s economic agenda. Recently, the BJP’s fund collector organised a five-star dinner in Delhi for an economist, for which a few corporate leaders and friends of the BJP were invited to interact. His only qualification is that his name was added to Prof. Jagdish Bhagwati’s, one of India’s finest economists. According to credible economists, Bhagwati lost the Nobel Prize to Amartya Sen only because he was considered pro-economic nationalism than fashionable liberal nationalism sans boundaries. The differences between the BJP leadership and a Modi-promoted economist on current economic policies came to the fore when a former Union minister vehemently questioned the need to abolish subsidies for the poor. The BJP is sharply divided over the UPA’s current economic decisions. Despite the strong public mood against the frequent hike in petroleum prices, the BJP’s top leadership has maintained a sinful silence over the government’s decision to raise gas prices by almost 100 per cent. The party  is still studying the details of the government announcement.
The Congress is equally confused. The Prime Minister is openly supporting the fall in the value of the rupee while many party leaders have expressed grave concerns over what could prove fatal for the party in the next elections. Even on the Ishrat Jahan issue, the government and the party are at loggerheads over legal and international complications. It was left to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to close the issue by taking refuge behind an agreement between the US and India that information provided by the US agencies on terror couldn’t be shared in public. In their unprincipled and rhetoric-led confrontation to acquire a WIT, both parties are fighting to divide a united India along ominous lines. Nothing else can define the end of both ‘India Shining’ and ‘The Great India Story’.
prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Teekhi Baat with Rajiv Pratap Rudy_IBN7_July 20, 2013

video


Interview with Bharatiya Janta Party general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy for Teekhi Baat on IBN7 

Hello! I am Prabhu Chawla and our guest for today on Teekhi Baat is Bharatiya Janta Party’s general secretary Mr. Rudy. Purposely am not taking your full name.
RPR:  Fine
PC: Because I can see some ‘feekapan’
RPR: I have a good name, Rajiv Pratap Singh.
PC: One gets confused because one cannot see ideological difference between your party and Rajiv Gandhi’s party. That is why I didn’t use Rajiv. It seems currently there is an identity crisis in the your party. You are Hindu nationalist, nationalist Hindu, who are you.
RPR: I know where you are going
PC: Am asking straight, today Rajiv Pratap Rudy is a Hindu nationalist or not
RPR: It is matter of pride to be nationalist; we are all Hindu ‘Rashtravadi’ in Hindustan
PC: You too are Hindu nationalist like Modi
RPR: We all, I am.
PC: Which means those except for Hindu are not nationalist
RPR: That is your understanding.
PC: I have asked a question
RPR: I think everybody in the country is a citizen according to the constitution of the country. And if anybody says Hindu Nationalist, you are talking about Mumbai posters
PC: You people are saying Modi said he is Hindu nationalist because he was born in Hindu family. What is the difference between nationalist Hindu and Hindu nationalist?
RPR: It is a very tough question; I would not be able to answer it. I think if journalists describe and brief the country it would be better.
PC: I am asking a question, I understood nationalist Hindu, but not Hindu nationalist.
RPR: The aim to say this is that in the politics of the country today, things have gone astray, and whenever BJP keeps an issue before the country, it gets twisted. When we talk of hurling the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, then people say we are divisive, when we speak against incursions in the country, INDT Act,or when Pakistan beheads our soldiers, or when we tell that terrorists were killed in the encounter at Batla House we are called as ‘algaav-vaadi’. National parties and many other parties run such campaigns against us in one word, hence we also to send message by using words and phrases to send message to people one has to use such words.  
PC: All this issue are related to Pakistan, more or less, it seems. When you call yourselves Hindu nationalist, because I think I am nationalist Hindu. Because “Hindu nationalist’ means means one who is not Hindu cannot be nationalist, isn’t it?
RPR: We and even the Court has talked about what is Hindutva, it is a way of life. And when we talk about Hindu nationalism, it is the same. People like you and our friends in the Congress, describe and explain and want to open a division.
PC: You have no other issue. You say Hindu Nationalist, but even Hindu cannot be nationalist, because there are Hindus who are in jail on terror charges.
RPR: You are moving away from the issue by saying this. We are all nationalist, even Hindus who stay in this country and people staying in Bharat, Hindustan are all nationalists. You are free to explain and describe it the way you want to.
PC: You said Hindu Rashtrawadi, it seems Modi is dictating your party agenda, you language. He talked regarding ‘burkha’ of secularism, what was the problem if he used the word ‘ghoonghat’.
RPR:  He used the word burkha, if he would have used some other word… I feel Bihar’s chief minister has made Narendra Modi the leader of Bihar. In the same manner, thank you, you are making our work easier, the more you comment on Narendra Modiji, the people of the country after listening to you all and the Congress party, would stand with us.
PC: You feel we are making him popular
RPR: You are not making him popular, the poison that comes our form the tongues or you all, people are seeing that poison. And other politicians like us are also affected and trying to understand what is your obsession. Narendrabhai is chief minister of a state, Bharatiya Janta Party has made him campaign committee chief, your and everybody else’s opposition, there is no difference between your and Nitish Kumarji’s words.
PC: If I start taking you list if speeches of BJP leaders from Bihar, Jharkhand and start reading, one will be able to see what you had almost spoken praises of Nitish Kumar, almost referring him to the level of Atal Bihari. You people started called him “ Vikas Purush” , I had told you once that he is your Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Now suddenly, your feel Nitish Kumarji is not a bad.
RPR: We never said bad, you say because you are free. Till yesterday, Nitish Kumarji was with us, the Bharatiya Janta Party, he was under cover of 93 BJP people and doing his politics. When that bunch came our, he is running government independently, what is his strength, but earlier we had decided to defend him and let him be at the forefront.  Hon. Chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumarji was votes of one limited section of society.
PC: You got to know this two months ago
RPR: We knew this already but it took some time, and Nitish Kumarji’s hate because he wants to be on ‘that chair’, and when he saw Narendra Modiji’s campaign in Bihar, and that too from a person who is from OBC, and today in Bihar, everybody, even in villages knows the name of Narendra Modi. From Tamil Nadu, Kanyakumari to Kashmir, you have made our work easier, keep on campaigning his name, thank you very much.
PC: The new order is if one has to be in BJP, one has to praise Modi. Because the Modi whom you didn’t allow to come to Bihar on the opinion of Nitish Kumar, you did not let him campaign, you all insulted him so much, be it Sushil Kumar Modi, or other leaders of Bihar, when Nitish Kumar used to say Modi would not come, you people used to say not at all.
RPR: We would have to tell people we faulted, and we will have to improve our mistake.
PC: You think he is becoming popular
RPR: Modiji has already become popular.
PC: Then why don’t you announce him as Prime Ministerial candidate, if he is so popular
RPR: You suggestion is good
PC: Am asking a question, why don’t you do it
RPR: If I was to do it, I would have told you now.
PC: No but …
RPR: Prabhuji, we are moving in that direction, why are you worried. What do you want
PC: I say you announce somebody, anybody whom you want to
RPR: We will do it, your suggestion is good, party people are watching, they would decide.  
PC: You mean nobody other than Modi can become PM candidate
RPR: That we have to decide. Which we would not do because you asked or told us
PC: I am asking you, it hasn’t been decided till now?
RPR: It has been decided.
PC: Without him Rajiv Pratap Rudy cannot win elections in Bihar
RPR: Certainly, the person who becomes, his influence extends to the constituency and adds up. Be it Rajnathji, Advaniji, Sushmaji, the benefit is of the BJP. People are expecting that one face of the BJP should be seen all over India, people feel that Narendra Modi should be in charge. And if we had done it than a big transformation in the country
PC: Who would come with him? One party left after he was brought in
RPR:  There were many people with us in 2004, 2009,
PC: From 2004 to 2013, many have left, nobody came
RPR: We saw that the recipe of 2004, 2009 was not successful. We toed the middle line, we were at 183 and came down to 143, then 116, now the people of the country have to be given an alternative. On the one had the man is known for his administrative skills, on the other his is chief minister, from our party, the BJP, party decided to appoint him as campaign committee chief.
PC: Before him there have been campaign committee chief’s who could not become Prime Minister’s.
RPR: Why all of you are restless by his name?
PC: The Rajiv Pratap Rudy who used to praise Nitish Kumar a year ago, today is praising Modi. I will run your tape someday
RPR: Do that
PC: There has been a change of heart, earlier he was not allowed to come to Bihar, were you scared of Nitish then
RPR: We never feared, but we were with the opinion of the party. Do you think I should be independent and relinquish my membership because of you.
PC: You say Modi is big leader, there is no Sushma, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath, you said Modi is the only biggest leader
RPR : That is what you are saying.
PC: I asked can Modi become PM, you said yes, I asked whether anybody else can, you didn’t take any name
RPR: Now that there is no discussion on any name, if you tell something, should I take
PC: It is decided that Modiji will become PM candidate
RPR: It has been decided.
PC: In Bihar, it seems your are opposing for the sake of opposing, till you were in government it was all right, now you blame them for everything. In Bodhgaya, a statement came that it was a terrorist attack, after that it was known that it was some other attack. On the issue of children, you say they are not showing sensitivity. Is it necessary for VVIP’s to go there?
RPR: What you are saying is certainly right and I think Nitishji would be very happy after listening to you. But when you and me are standing together, there should be concurrence and administration runs with concurrence. Today in Bihar, there is no concurrence of Hon. chief minister Nitish Kumarji.
PC: Earlier he had
RPR: Certaily, with BJP’s support and cover.
PC: Not strength but propaganda
RPR: No, it was strength. When we were supporting them with 93 MLA’s, even their party MLA’s used to feel that BJP is standing with strength by us. Today they are free
PC: But they didn’t win with your support, they have won 123 seats on their own
RPR: Today we have strength. Now one month afterwards, he is running the administration on his strength, he is showing his qualities. When we were there It was a joint effort. Bullets are fired in Motihari, 23 children suffer and die in Chhapra, and it would be the first chief minister, before even the number of dead is ascertained, the chief minister announced Rs. 2 lakh compensation. Now Prabhu Chawla feels I should not say anything on these things, a bomb explodes in Gaya, Prabhu Chawlaji feels I should not say anything because till yesterday we were together. But today we are the opposition and plying the opposition role. And we will come to power in Bihar, we are finding a way for that. An in Maharajganj elections, the public gave message to BJP, we had said on Maharajganj elections, BJP needs Narendra Modi as much as JD(U), and it turned out to be true. Their (JDU) candidates lost by 1.25 lakh votes.
PC: You
RPR: People said separate; otherwise you too would meet the same fate.  
PC: People were voting for Laloo
RPR: When people demanded Nitish Kumar should come to villages, he didn’t go, after Chappra incident, he has no courage to go.
PC: In Maharajganj have BJP workers voted for Laloo’s party or no
RPR: Workers didn’t vote, people send a message to BJP, if your are with JDU for long time, what will happen, and we corrected our selves. And BJP will win in a big way in parliamentary constituencies in 2014, and in 2015, if you have pen and paper, and other people in the studio, can note, in 2015, there will be BJP government in Bihar. And we will get a good government.
PC: In Bihar, the improvement in agriculture, social sector has been better than Gujarat.
RPR:  Our leadership has the consistency in delivering, in Gujarat, he has become chief minister the third time, and our government has formed the fifth time. And the average output of agriculture, be it Madhya Pradesh, it is better than national average. We have increased in Bihar, but who was the state’s finance minister, our leader Sushil Kumar Modi. Hence, the financials, development plan roadmap was decided by him.
PC: Revenue has not increased
RPR: You economics is good, development has happened, but revenue has not increased
 PC: Which industry came, how many roads were made
RPR: roads were made.
PC: Except for Patna, how many roads were made, in comparison with Gujarat.
RPR: Why should we compared with Gujarat.
PC: Because Modi is your role model
RPR: We will do after 2015 elections
PC: Now to oppose you are opposing and making villain our of Nitish Kumar
RPR: In Bihar, there is no difference between the face of Laloo Yadav and Nitish Kumar.
PC: Because you have separated
RPR: We separated at the right time;
PC: You have hopes on Narendra Modi
RPR: Not me, everybody has decided that leadership would go into Narendra Modi’s hands. We have confidence and would go ahead, you can comment whatever you want. And all discussions would benefit him, because all of you spew poison in his name.
PC: There is no ‘vish’ but vishkamna
RPR: A person who is a nationalist,
PC: You mean others are not nationalist,
RPR: Even others are nationalist, but there are Congress leaders who address Osama Bin Laden as Osamaji.
PC: And people who are Miyaji are they nationalist
RPR: And Osama Bin Laden becomes Osamaji
PC: Do you like the kind of language used in politics today, be it from both sides
RPR: That is a different debate what language is there and what it should be, whether we are really successful in a democracy or not.
PC: Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been Prime Minister, have you seen anybody use works like burka, pilla kutteka,
RPR: If he said it was a deer, you would have said why deer word was used, if he said cat, you would hav said why cat was used.
PC: But talked about somebody dying, but you attacked Rajiv Gandhi so much when he said that when a giant three falls, the earth shakes.
RPR: How soft hearted is Narndra Modiji that he said that somebody is sitting in the rear seat of vehicle, and a puppy comes under the wheels of the car. You don’t understand the pain, but you people have poisoned mind like Congressmen, that you infer so many other sings, which society, which people, who thinks all this?
PC: You have said, you are new in politics, when Shah
RPR: 25 years, I became an MLA at the age of 26, I am in active politics for 25 years, and I am new in politics, and you will tell me politics.
PC: Let me recall, when Shahbuddin said I am a Muslim Indian, then you party had climbed on his neck, that he is communal, that he is communal. Am saying this because you are new in the party, you would not remember this. Your parties said remove him from the country. But when you talk of Hindu nationalist, you say we are right. People are saying, not me, that you are using these words to divide people.
RPR: Neither people are speaking against the BJP, nor Narendra Modiji, only Prabhu Chawla and people like him are speaking, in 2014, people are standing with Narendrabhai. Everybody in the country, youth, businessmen are with
PC: People say businessmen are behind it, now you yourself say it
RPR: Today there was ASSOCHAM meet, Rajnath Singhji was there
PC: PM Manmohan Singh was also there
RPR: He is the only economist Prime Minister in the whole world, nobody else is and he has got India’s GDP to 5 per cent.
PC: But your party kept quiet when gas prices were increased, prices were doubled, you didn’t speak at all.
RPR: You tell about this thing
PC: Your party said nothing, we are studying is what one of your leaders said. Which means you are yourself hand in clove with businessmen. Now, youth are being made in charge of states, Amit Shah was made in charge in Uttar Pradesh, your in Bihar
RPR: Am in Maharashtra
PC: But you are active in Bihar
RPR: Yes, am continuously working in Bihar. Like I was there when the children died, I keep on going there.
PC: But you would want to become elections in charge there
RPR: A person hailing from the state I not given the responsibility of the same state
PC: Wont you be projected as Bihar Chief minster
RPR: No, we will contest next elections in Bihar under Sushil Modi’s leadership.
PC: He will be made chief minister
RPR: There should be no doubt about that
PC: You are not chief ministerial candidate
RPR: Certainly now.
PC: You will go as Modi’s Hanuman
RPR: As per party’s decision we will work towards Prime Ministerial seat for Narendra Modiji.
PC: Thank you for coming to our studio

RPR: Thank you !! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rahul's discovery of India.... Power & Politics/ The Sunday Standard/ July 14, 2013

Rahul's discovery of India has to culminate in agenda for change for better




Will he? Won’t he?  It is a question, which Rahul Gandhi has refused to answer for the past few years. As Narendra Modi’s megaphones continue blaring, projecting him as India’s future Prime Minister, the Congress is refusing to bite the bullet. It is still unwilling to declare that the next election would not be fought under the 80-year-old Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s leadership. As the Congress vacillates over announcing its prime ministerial candidate, its ideological and corporate sponsors are raising vital questions about the reason for not taking a final call. Is it because the party is not confident of returning to power? Or is it because they feel that Rahul is not capable of converting crowds into votes? Or it is the eternal fear that if the party loses under Rahul’s leadership, it will spell doom for the Gandhi Parivar? Even Congress leaders feel that these questions have to be settled once and for all in the interest of the Gandhi Parivar.
The Congress without a Gandhi is like a 50-year-old Ambassador without a smart driver. Sonia Gandhi was able to bring the party twice to power and raise its Lok Sabha tally from 112 in 1999 to 206 in 2009. A Nehru or a Gandhi has always led the Congress from the front. But that hasn’t deterred one of its most outspoken spokespersons Digvijaya Singh from unilaterally declaring last weekend that Rahul would not be declared the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. As the countdown for the crucial elections, which will make or mar the political future of not only the Congress but also of Rahul himself, begins, even his most ardent admirers are baffled over the nature of his role during the next few months. For the first time, he attended the meeting of the four-member Congress core group to take a call on the creation of Telangana. He also participated in another meeting of 34 selected party leaders, including Congress chief ministers, to discuss the politically vital Food Security Bill. Yet, Rahul has hardly spoken on any of these issues recently.
Silence on many sensitive national issues has been his most effective weapon to keep critics guessing. Now the pressure is mounting on him from within to lead from the front and let the party have a vision, which is by Rahul, for Rahul and of Rahul. Congress insiders feel that the party needs a Rahul Vision to silence his adversaries. Normally, the work of a leader speaks louder than his words. But even Rahul’s choreographed decade-old yatra for his Discovery of India has to culminate sooner than later in the form of a Rahul Agenda for Change for a better India. Like the BJP leader, Rahul cannot be on a permanent yatra, which takes him to various tribal hamlets, universities and colleges, corporate forums and areas affected by natural calamities. His sudden and secret landings and disappearances in various part of the country are now losing not only novelty but relevance as well.
Rahul has an advantage over other Congress leaders. Despite being in active politics for the past 10 years, his personal integrity has never been questioned. His frugal lifestyle is the envy of his peer group. He has been able to keep his unseen and unknown aides away from controversy and public gaze. Now even his loyalists in the government and the party are becoming restive about their leader’s reluctance to impose his will and wish on the Congress establishment. Most of them are willing to fight along with him since they have a stake in Congress’ future. They are convinced of the fact that Rahul not taking a firm stand against the UPA’s pathetic performance would adversely affect electoral prospects.
Of late, the Gandhi scion has been meeting party officebearers and listening to their views. But he hasn’t picked up the courage to revolt against a corrupt establishment. Now as the Vice-President of the Congress and holding most of the powers of the party president, he cannot wash his hands off the misdeeds and mismanagement in both the government and the party. Congress observers feel that the people will demand accountability for the authority he wields. They have suggested that Rahul learn from the path chosen by his grandmother Indira Gandhi, father Rajiv and uncle Sanjay. Each of them had brought their agenda and aides when asked to take over the responsibility of running the party and the country. Indira demolished the syndicate and restored the party’s Left-of-Centre ideology, which she imposed on the government. Later, she introduced a 20-point programme, meant to revive social and economic welfare. Sanjay started with a bang and gave a five-point programme that covered a wide range of issues such as environment and family planning. Rajiv spoke about the 21st century India and the nationwide introduction of computers. The other Congress PM, PV Narasimha Rao, shook a conservative India with far-reaching economic reforms. Sonia surprised even her critics by pushing the UPA to open government business files to the people by getting the Right to Information Act passed, followed by yet another social welfare scheme MGNREGS which turned out to be a game-changer for the party.
Even a cadre-driven party like the BJP has been forced to look for an individual to revive its sagging image and plummeting electoral fortunes. Rahul has to follow the Gandhi family tradition of inventive instrumentation to retain power for the Congress. India understands the agony of a political scion whose grandmother and father rose through the ballot but fell to the bullets of terrorists. If Rahul fails to overcome the terrible pain of his past and rise to retain the Gandhi aura of indispensability, he will be risking both his future and that of the party as well. If Congress wins in 2014 amid a hostile and fragmented social order, mother and son duo will break the record of his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru who won three elections in a row.
prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Teekhi Baat with Ajay Maken_IBN7_July 13, 2013

video


Interview with Congress party general secretary and communication in-charge Ajay Maken for Teekhi Baat on IBN7.

PC: Is it right to say main spokesperson?
AM: In charge of communication department would be apt.
PC: Are you not a spokesperson
AM: Am a spokesperson too
PC: After an editor takes charge, if the newspaper loses circulation, revenue, and loses a good team would you call that editor a successful or a failure.
AM: Then we would not call the editor to be successful.
PC: What would you call you prime minister then, GDP has gone down, people have left, allies left, crimes have increased. If prime minister is in that category, he has failed.
AM: But he is not in that category.
PC: GDP has come down from 10 to five per cent, allies left.
AM: Our nine year average GDP growth is 7.9 per cent. During BJP’s time, growth was less than six per cent. Our 7.9 average GDP growth has happened at a time when the whole world has grown at 2 per cent GDP. When the whole world grows at 2 per cent and India grows at 7.9 per cent, which means he is a successful Prime Minister.
PC: During Vajpayee’s time the growth across the world as three per cent
AM: During Vajpayee it was growing from three to six, and now it is two and 7.9, you do the math.
PC: Three to six per cent is hundred per cent growth
AM: By the same logic we have growth four times; it is two per cent and 7.9 per cent.
PC: It is not from two per cent, in 2004, it was around 6.4
AM: Am speaking about international average.  Also, initial growth is easy, subsequent growth is difficult. When we reach 10 per cent, then going from 10 to 11 per cent, would not be as easy. But going from three to six would be very easy.
PC: BJP says we built the foundation; you built a building on it.
AM: Foundation was laid when Manmohan Singh was Finance Minister.
PC: Narsimha Rao was Prime Minister. But even after that the growth came down to three per cent.
AM: It had come to three per cent only for a year, and then jumped to six per cent.
PC: Which means you were doing well, then fell down, even then you say you are successful. Allies left, ministers resigned.
AM: Allies have left or not, we have majority.
PC: Where is majority?
AM: We do have majority, otherwise why doesn’t the opposition
PC: That is because of manipulation
AM: We have the numbers, then these kind of things are said.
PC: But you cannot get the laws passed, you get an ordinance.
AM: Let them get the ordinance, if they want
PC: If you had majority, why would you have got an ordinance
AM: It is no because of majority, but because they did not let the session run the last time.
PC: You don’t have majority hence you did so
AM: We bringing am ordinance has nothing to do with majority. Our budget has passed, finance bill passed.
PC: Gujraal saab’s budget passed, then the government fell. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had got vote on account done.
AM: Vote on account is different, finance bill is different. 
PC: In 65 year old history, never did the budget fall.
AM: Government does not fall after the budget is passed. If budget has passed, finance bill has passed, it means majority is there.
PC: But they walked out, they could have made the government fall
AM: Why didn’t they do it then?
PC: Hence you are saying that the government is running very well, you very happy with 5 per cent growth.
AM: Don’t look at today’s five per cent, look at the whole period.
PC: Your current account deficit has increased three times.
AM: As percentage of GDP, current account deficit is low even now as compared to NDA..
PC: Your public debt has increased by Rs. four lakh crore, where is the income.
AM: See the debt-GDP ratio. See the GDP when Vajpayee saab left government and now.
PC: Increase in incomes does not mean that one goes bankrupt. In 2010, foreign exchange was 300 billion dollars, today you have 260 billion dollars.
AM: Oil prices have increased
PC: You have explanation for everything, your export, revenue is not increasing, and industrialists are taking money out of India,
AM: Out manufacturing sector growth has been 7.8 per cent. During BJP’s time,
PC: You talk about yourself; BJP has lost elections two times, people made them lose. Last year, 11 billion dollars went from India to America last year.
AM: But I came during out period
PC: Not even five billion has come
AM: See our nine year records; we have never received such an amount of money which we did in the past nine years.
PC: Am talking of Vajpayee government times, when he took over reserves were 150 billion dollars, when he relinquished charge it was 300 billion dollars, now nine years later, you are still stuck at 300 billion.
AM: Foreign exchange deposit is not the basis of economy. That time growth was less than six per cent, poverty reduction was 0.8 per cent per year, we have done poverty reduction of two per cent per year.
PC: But the number of people in poverty has increased
AM: For the first time poverty in absolute terms has declined, I can show you, this is the Prime Minister’s statement.
PC: Prime Minister in 2009 said growth will be ten per cent, in 2010; he said we will do 12 per cent growth.
AM: Like you told numbers, I am telling numbers that we have reduced poverty by 2 per cent every year as compared to 0.8 during NDA’s time. We have 7.9 per cent average GDP growth as compared to 6 per cent during NDA’s time. Then who is better?
PC: You are saying that you have reduced the number of poor. You say you do things for the poor by bringing the food security bill. But you cannot make available vegetables at economical rates, water, roads, you say you will give cash transfer, which indirectly means make people beggars, but we will not give you jobs.
AM: What do you mean by that?
PC: You are giving cash transfers; unemployment has increased on the other side,
AM: No it has not increased. Our MGNREGA, the national rural employment guarantee scheme
PC: That is a guarantee scheme, it is not employment.  
AM: Forty eight crore job cards have been made in the country
PC: How many assets have been created?
AM: Assests are in that that
PC: What are those
AM: Assets worth Rs. 1.72 lakh crore have been created.
PC: Reports state that there is no roads, water, and electricity in rural areas
AM: It is no magic wand that in three- four years
PC: But it has been nine years now
AM: Our MGNREGA is a six year old scheme, we have spent 1.72 lakh crore on the scheme. When it was initiated, Rs. 65 were daily wages, now daily wages are Rs. 125  
PC: MGNREGA is a political tool to win elections
AM: Via MGNREGA poor people in all parts of country have got a right to work, and got work.
PC: You are going for elections, you are scared of Modi, Ajay Maken gets instructions to abuse Modi today, because you have no leader
AM: No, there are no instructions as such and neither have we abused.
PC: They abuse you, you abuse them
AM: We always try to stretch our line, we will talk with numbers regarding the work which we have done. Via food security bill, 82 crore people in the country will get right to food, and as a right, this is not a scheme. And Rs. 1, 23,724 crore
PC: But when talking of subsidy, why don’t you make power availability cheaper, petrol cheaper, you increase price of diesel, petrol
AM: You now said vegetables, diesel, petrol is expensive, now when we are reducing prices of food, which will meet the hunger, you are asking questions
PC: 30 per cent of the total budget is spent on food
 AM: Is it happening from now, it is happening from earlier times. It is not merely on food, it is on the minimum support price which we give farmers. When we came to power, minimum support price of rice was Rs. 640 per quintal, today it is Rs. 1350, anaj has increased from Rs. 550 to Rs .1250.
PC: But it is decaying in FCI godowns
AM: No it is not decaying, when we came to power,
PC: Congress plan’s it to donate and squander the government money, give people jobs, house, a roof over his head. But you tell people take wheat for cheap, but it may be sold in black.
AM: When we give cheap anaj, you ask why, when we give them jobs in MGNREGA, you say from where the assets were created.
PC: When you took over in Delhi, price of electricity was Rs. 2 per unit, now it is Rs. eight per unit.
AM: But you atleast get electricity, when we took over electricity theft was around 56 per cent.
PC: Which means your argument is that will reduce two rupees in food prices and recover from electricity price. Electricity bill is more than food bill these days.  
AM: To save people from malnutrition, for pregnant mothers, lactating mothers, we have got the food security bill.
PC: Congress ruled for 52 years, it knew all these things, today before the elections.
AM: NDA had got time in between, janta party for time, they didn’t do, it’s not that only we have got chance. Now we have to resources, the GDP growth because of our Prime Minister and Congress president.
PC: Digvijay Singh has announced that Rahul Gandhi will not be declared Prime Ministerial candidate. Do you feel it is because of fear that Congress may get less than 200 seats.
AM: No, nothing as such and no decision in this regard has been taken till now.
PC: Why did he say it
AM: You called me chief spokesperson, I am telling, there is no decision on it, there is one year for elections, secondly, we are ruling party, we have our prime minister, and our prime minister has done good work, third thing which is most important, our’s is not a presidential form of governance, that there are elections between president and president, and in our parliamentary form of governance, members of parliament are elected, in 2004 when Manmohan Singhji became prime minister
PC: In 2009 you had announced
AM: In 2009 he was sitting. That is why I am saying now there is no decision on the issue, when it happens, we will surely tell you.
PC: You fear that is a fear and after Modi you fear more
AM: Are we feared or Modi, or is the BJP feared of Modi?
PC: BJP people are in fear
AM: Advaniji got fever when he was in Goa.
PC: But they all came together, they are together these days.
AM: What together, the day Sushma Swaraj was to be crowned, she came back to Delhi. The chief minister of Goa, the state where all this happened, criticized him a week later. Shivraj Singh Chauhan keeps on taunting him frequently. First let BJP announce him as prime ministerial candidate, NDA is shrinking by the day, you spoke about our Prime Minister, not NDA
PC: I said that the acceptability of both parties has come down, people are leaving both parties. Both parties do not have leaders.
AM: They are shrinking
PC: Both have three, you have NCP, National Conference, they too have two parties
AM: We have 206
PC: Why all of you are so much fear of Modi
AM: We don’t think anything as such, but you people taking his name again and again. We are not scared of him, BJP people, NDA people are scared of him.
PC: Not it seems a presidential kind of elections, they attempted at polarization, even today they gave a statement, that I am a Hindu nationalist
AM: Why didn’t he say nationalist Hindu
PC: What is the problem in saying this, that I am a hindu, and a nationalist.
AM: Why not nationalist Hindu, why Hindu nationalist, why not nationalist first. For any person, his country comes first. One has to be Nationalist Hindu, but if he is Hindu Nationalist, does it mean he is nationalist because he is Hindu. Then what will others who are nationalist say? We all should believe that nationalism, nationality and nation come first. First comes our country, then everything else.
PC: He gave some other statement too regarding puppy, on which Congressmen are taking
AM: We have said the kind of expression he has made, the parallels and examples he has drawn that is not a representative of our civilized India. The Idea of India, the image which people have of India, in which people of all castes ,religions, stay together, that level of example of a level which he wants to attain.
PC: But he is the Prime Ministerial candidate now
AM: At least let him show that attitude that he has such a thinking,
PC: What kind of thinking he has
AM: It is a wrong attitude, and the kind of example he has given, I don’t want to talk, because I don’t want to think like what a person can think about a community. It is a matter of shame and pain.
PC: You feel that he has become an example of wrong attitude
AM: I think any person should not use such kind of language. Anybody who shows such kind of attitude, he does not think how a civilized India is. He is not acquainted with India’s thinking.
PC: You think Congress will benefit because of this
AM: Don’t count everything by the measure of benefit or loss. If anybody does anything good, we praise him.
PC: Modi says make the nation free of Congress
AM: Till now, even Gujarat has not become free of Congress
PC: It has become free of Congress as you have lost five times
AM: Not because of them
PC: BJP has made you lose five times, like in Delhi you win
AM: He wants to go on the line of Sardar Patel, who wants India free of RSS.
PC: He is now taking out a yatra in name of Sardar Patel, his statue would be installed in every village.
AM: Does it mean he is opposing RSS. The Sardar Patel who banned RSS,
PC: He has wished everybody on Ramzan, shown nationalism
AM: He wished for Ramzan and the statement he gave in 24 hours, it shows, “ Mooh mein Ram, bagal mein Churi”
PC: You are saying Modiji ke mooh mein Raam, aur who bagal mein churi lekar chalte hain
AM: I have said it
PC: A Supreme Court statement has said, there should be no criminals in politics, there was a statement, but not that clear from your party.
AM: We believe that convicts should not have a place in legislature and parliament. As far as Supreme Court has said regarding sitting MLA’s, MP’s, if he is convicted with a sentence of more than two years, even in that case he should not be a member of the house.
PC: The day he is convicted, that day he is out
AM: I do not think there is any problem in that. We have welcomed it.
PC: The day a person is convicted, the same day he vacates that seat
AM: It is a judgement of Supreme Court
PC: It seems an ordinance is going to come, in which you will reverse the Supreme Court judgement.
AM: We are not going to get any such ordinance
PC: Hence, the Supreme Court court
AM: The Supreme Court order, judgement, is the law of the country, how can we go against law.
PC: The day he is convicted and gets sentence for two or more than two years, whether he appeals or not, he will lose his seat
AM: Certainly, and we are not going to get any ordinance against this
PC: And no political party will make changes to it
AM: We don’t want any change.
PC: But your allies would pressurise you
AM: I am from Congress party and on behalf of Congress party I say that we welcome this. In Gujarat, Babubhai Bokhria, who is member of cabinet in Modi saab’s government, he has to vacate, as he has been sentenced for three years on charges of corruption.
PC: Supreme Court has said it is prospective, but even in your party there are many such people
AM: BJP did not let many of our parliament sessions function because a name was there in FIR. Not only Babulal Baokheria name is there
PC: You are doing politics on the issue now, when you have made a government with such people in Jharkhand. The Supreme Court decision is with prospective effect. There are many people from your party, who have been convicted. The chief ministerial candidate whom you made in Jharkhand has criminal cases on him
AM: Is he a convict
PC: He has been charge sheeted
AM: Charge sheet is different, I didn’t say charge sheet
PC: You mean charge sheet is fine
AM: Supreme Court orders are not on charge sheet. We welcome the law that Supreme Court has said.
PC: In Jharkhand, there is a minister, who is convicted, his appeal is pending
AM: It will happen according to Supreme Court order
PC: There are cases against chief minister you have appointed
AM: He is not convicted
PC: Congress party is the opinion that those who are charge sheeted but not convicted can stay
AM: No, we are of the opinion that those who are convicted should be removed.
PC: I am presuming that you have no view on the charge sheeted issue
AM: Am saying those convicted for more than two years, the law should be followed
PC: But you have no view on those who are charge sheeted, because your people are charge sheeted, and made a government in Jharkhand.
AM: Charge sheet does not mean that the allegation against him are proved. Against whom it is proved after the Supreme Court law has come into effect, in future any person would not have the right to stay on the chair, we welcome the orders of the Supreme Court.
PC: Where it suits you, you welcome it, not other places. You have made a chief minsiter, who has cases against him
AM: But he is not a convict. If there is a judgment of court against a person, he has no right, as per what court has said.
PC: If decriminalization has to be done in your party, then people who have been charge sheeted, should not be given tickets. There is a proposal as such, do you have a view on that.
AM: Under the leadership of Ambika Soniji, the party has made a committee on electoral reforms, after the Jaipur session. The report of the committee will come.
PC: That will be after elections.
AM: It will come soon, we will take action on it.
PC: You will contest elections, without announcing the Prime Minister
AM: Elections would be held next year in May. Please see other parties too  
PC: Elections would not happen earlier
AM: Why would they happen earlier, why would we do elections earlier.
PC: You will not do it, but if somebody withdraws support then
AM: Till we have majority, our mandate is till May, 2014.
PC: Thank you for coming to our studio

AM: Thank you, Prabhuji ! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Teekhi Baat with Vijay Bahuguna_IBN7_July 06, 2013

video

INTERVIEW with Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna for Teekhi Baat on IBN7

PC: In this time of disaster, the whole country is with you, has supported you, but there are some short comings from your government’s side?
VB: The natural disaster is so devastating, and spread across a huge 37,000 square kilometer, which we call as Himalaya Tsunami, and for my state with a meager budget of Rs .25,000 crore, to face this disaster, and has a non plan expenditure of Rs. 16,000 crore, at a time of such tragedy, the whole country, central ministers, the whole council of ministers, whole government, army, ITBP, NDRF, at such a time, government means the organizations of the whole country, and if you segregate each unit, like counting government to be separate, municipal corporation to be separate, army to be separate, when we all worked together and everybody has done an appreciable work. Be it district administration, state government, all defense forces, so that we could evacuate 1.10 lakh people and send them back to their houses. The tragedy was big, the challenges are big, work is too long, we want everybody’s co-operation.
PC: You are saying it is a very big disaster; this is what the whole world knows. But your state government knew about the geographical conditions in the state, that there could be floods anytime, cloudbursts anytime, I  do not think that you must not be knowing how many people are trapped in the state, three weeks after the disaster, how many are dead, missing, doesn’t this show that the state government’s machinery is not at all ready
VB: Everybody has own point of view to understand the situation. Today, the condition is, the dead bodies that are seen by army, NDRF, our police, they are saying that the numbers are between 500-600, the number of people missing, a total of 3068 complaints have been received by the state government, we have complied missing reports sent by other states, in today’s date, 3068 people are missing. We have taken a decision, that till July 15, the missing people, do not come back, we will presume them to be dead. We will tell you the figures on 16th. The relief would be distributed to the families from 16th. We cannot do guesswork because this is not a time to estimate. We have to base things on facts. You should know that we have also filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, am not and would not be in favor of hiding, for not disclosing something; I will acquaint the nation with the prevailing condition. Today the condition is that 3068 people have not come back to their homes.
PC: 3000 people have not reached, but you have not announced officially how many people are dead. So many tourists come to your state, there is no system which tells you how many people had gone towards Gangotri side, near Kedarnath, you have no figure.
VB: Till date we don’t have a monitoring system, lakhs of travelers come here. There was no monitoring to see which person has gone where. Now there is a need, we have taken decision, to see how many load infrastructure can take, what can be the permission set, we will do it. But in a state which has lakhs of travelers, we don’t have a wherewithal to find out the whereabouts. But the missing persons would be counted as dead. Regarding the dead bodies, the conditions are so bad in the Himalayan disaster, that even the army is facing problems reaching places, NDRF is not able to reach, the dead bodies cannot be recognized, now we are doing DNA tests, so that sampling can be done. But the number of dead from Uttarakhand state, from Rudraprayag are under 600, but I will say that the total number of dead in the disaster would be between 3000 to 4000 unfortunately. 
PC: You have told that the UNO agency said that 1200 are dead, your speaker said 10,000 are dead, you environment minister said 5,000 are dead, which means there is no unanimity in your state government. Like the country was disconnected from Uttarakhand, and with so many villages disconnected in Uttarakhand, your state government has no way to find out.
VB: As a chief minister I cannot do guess work, am acquainting you with the prevailing condition. I have said that will not brush anything under the carpet. I have numbers of bodies on which last rites are being performed, the number of dead bodies seen, the numbers of missing dead bodies. If any other agencies have facts, I will request them to send it to the state government. This issue should not be of debate, there is no scope of politics on this issue. The prevailing condition would be known after July 16.
PC: In today’s date, you are not in a position to say how many people area dead, missing. Hence rumors are spread, numbers estimated and you call it politics, which is from both sides.
VB: Am not making it a political issue. This is a very big disaster, many people have lost many things, are troubled, have suffered losses, the deaths are painful. People who do not reach home till July 15, the missing reports received from all states, on that basis the number of dead would be found. It may be possible, that somebody is alive and may reach back home. But all state governments sent their officers here, state government’s helped us, our state government’s officers are also working, we are getting survey done in villages, after July 16, the Uttarakhand state government will release official figures.
PC: Why didn’t you declare this is as national calamity, three days you were in Delhi, was it your mistake not to get it declared as national calamity, so that you could get requisite response to counter such a calamity.
VB: I was with the Prime Minister for mere two hours and spoke about the prevailing conditions in the state. You would know that I have been a lawyer and hence good at representing. Got assistance from the central government, but now I don’t know who is imagining these fake things. Two times the home minister came to the state, and with respect announcing national or regional calamity, the state is getting the assistance that it should get. All agencies, every ministry of Government of India is providing assistance. And Prime Minister and UPA chairperson have themselves said that the state would get assistance for building infrastructure and future development, and are already getting currently.
PC: Don’t to think an incident in which the whole Kedar ghati was devastated, in which crores of people have belief, don’t you think it is a national calamity. 4000-5000 people are dead or may be dead.
VB: If there is difference in relief works, see in whichever state, Tsunami has struck, but national calamity was not announced anywhere, and If the state government feels that it is not getting the financing and other assistance properly, and if there is a difference of parameter in natural disaster and natural calamity, then we will think on that, now we are doing relief and rescue work, struggling against the environment. We can have a discussion on this issue after some time but home minister has said that whatever assistance the state needs, it will get, this is Prime Minister has told.
PC: You have restored electricity in 3000 villages till now, made many roads, in past three weeks, government has announced 1,000 crore, out of which you may have got Rs. 200 crore till now, the people of the country are ready to give more than that. Do you think Rs. 1000 crore can solve your problem. You say the state has a budget of Rs .25,000 crore, it seems you may need Rs. 50,000 crore for reconstruction, do you have an estimate.
VB: This is a misconception, Prime Minister has given an interim relief of Rs. 1000 crore, this is not final relief. Estimates are being asked from different departments, regarding which department has suffered how much loss. The central government teams would come, NDMA member Duggal is also stationed here, certainly one will arrive at an estimate, there is no guesswork, the department of PWD, irrigation will work it out. One will need a lot of money for irrigation, has all the rivers have changed their course, which has resulted in a lot of losses. By the end of this month, the state government will give the central government full figures, regarding the losses faced by us. Border roads organization has suffered, many roads near border, be it Gangotri, Badrinath, where 200 settlements have been washed away, buildings have fell, farms devastated.
PC: Even after three weeks you do not have an estimate of the losses, many villages are disconnected even now, if army’s assistance was not available, the state government would not be able to do relief and rescue works. It seemed that the state was in a state of total paralysis.
VB: No state government has a capability to face such a big calamity. In Gujarat, army woked, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim too, you are not acquainted with the geographical conditions prevailing here, where till today, army and NDRF jawans are not able to reach. This is a difficult terrain, till we don’t reach villages, repair pipelines, one hydro station is submerged under water. And when figures are sent to state government, we have to make a correct estimate. Now are priority is not estimate devastation, but to do relief work, restore connectivity to villages, 42,00 of them were disconnected, today merely 400 are left to be connected. We are busy in relief work, so that people can get supplies, give mental treatment to people who are in a state of shock. Our immediate priority is not to take funds from central government, we have funds, chief minister’s have sent aid, with all humility I am saying that we have announced compensation in the wake of disaster, in a manner which no other state government has done. No issue connected with the state’s development will be ignored.
PC: You said about difficult terrain, but in America when such incident happened recently, the whole system was restored in nine days, even when their train system was flooded. You knew such problems could happen in Uttaranchal, but your government was busy with power plants and setting up industries but not ready to face natural calamity.
VB: This may be a thinking of some person, but it is a pre-conceived notion. The could burst over Himalaya, river flooding, 330 mm rains, earthquake, tsunami, if it is manmade, then it means that human has become god. We can’t avert such situation. The question is how we can reduce the amount of damage that such calamity brings. I have said this or any other state government does not have resources to face such a calamity. Area, roads got cut off, one cannot reach, hence planes, helicopters were used, state government does not have helicopters, air force planes came, who did evacuation work, even today there are helicopters where DM’s are there, the weather is so bad even now, that we are not able to deliver food via helicopters, even horses cannot go. It is very difficult situation, I was to go to Joshimatt, but the weather was bad and helicopter could not fly there. People are risking their lives and working, our Air Force people were martyred, 19 people from police force died, I have made an legal authority for Uttarakhand redevelopment. I have made a team for advising on calamities, which includes generals, environmentalists, geologists, and am in favor that the Himalayan states should have a similar policy, for tourism, energy, roads, employment, farming, a Himalyan Development Corporation be formed under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, which should have chief ministers. For unemployment, due to the calamity, planning should be done, otherwise migration would happen. I have made environmentalists, for making a gross environmental product report, which we would submit to the planning commission this time. The other thing is that for the past 100 years, population is settled around river in various areas, river is changing course by 500-1000 meters. In coming years, planning for 100-200 year should be dine, how Himalayas should be. One should also think about people living in Himalayan villages, if we are made economically backward, our tourism would be diminished, unemployment would increase, everybody together should make a policy.
PC: You say politics should not happen, but it is happening. Politicians from every state came to Uttarakhand, who talked about giving money to your state, you don’t have a mechanism to channelize the funds when the whole country is with you to help. Opposition’s is attacking you saying that the government wants to take stance showing that the Congress should do everything, nobody else.
VB:  With humility I would like to tell you, I have sent letters to each chief minister thanking them. All chief minister would have send funds for chief minister’s relief funds, we have deposited them. Every chief minister who came and said that their state government’s would like to extend help, I have welcomed it. Every chief minister has sent his officers here. I have got co-ordination done between their and our officers. Uttarakhand government has not taken a stance in any manner to show that it is discriminating against anybody giving assistance. Even today Punjab’s Prakash Singh Badal had come here, he gave Rs. 10 crore, I have thanked him. I don’t know from where this misinformation spread that Uttarakhand is engaging in politics in accepting relief aid. We are from land of gods, land of gallants, and the kind of character and co-operation that nation has shown with us, even the coming generations of Uttarakhand would be able to thank them enough. It is a misconception, I have not declined to take help from chief minister of any state. I thank them again and again, I don’t know from where these issues are rising and a political angle is being seen in the thing.
PC: It is said you allowed Rahul Gandhi to get down in affected areas of the state, but did not allow chief minister’s to do so, this has been printed in news papers, I do not know how true it is. It was written Rahul Gandhi got down at a place where he should not have, other chief minister’s were not allowed to alight. Are these things true?
VB: I would like to thank you first for giving me an opportunity to clear the misinformation that is being spread. When this calamity happened, you would know that we don’t have helipads on mountains. And small helipads were made with rudimentary equipments, on which helicopters landed. When Prime Minister  ,Soniaji came, they did aerial survey, didn’t get down. BJP President Rajnath Singhji came, he did aerial survey, the day Narendra Modiji came, that day the home minister was also present, even the home minister was not given permission to land by the air force and army, our administration didn’t give permission because rescue operations were going on those helipads then. This is the talk of the Kedar ghats, between Kedarnath and Gauri Kund, I was alone who used to alight at some places to see if things are running right. The day Rahulji came, rescue operations were on happening on the helipads on the Kedarnath belt, and on just helipad, he got down for 15 minutes, this did not affected rescue, nor any public interest was affected, and to compare it to previous days, a time when senior leaders were not allowed to alight, we have to understand when rescue operations are happening, then how risky is it to alight and how much it would be against public interest. We allowed people alight, media men went in choppers, we allowed minister from other states to go, Rahul Gandhiji, is a parliamentarian, our party vice president, if he stopped at someplace for 10 minutes, there was not issue but unnecessarily it was raised. I have given you clarification, in the earlier days, when home minister was also present in Uttarakhand on the same day, even he had not got permission for landing, because rescue operations were one.  Home Minister and Modiji’s were in Uttarakhand on the same day.
PC: Did Rahul Gandhi know beforehand that rescue operations were not happening at that place, hence he went there. Even other chief minister’s would have wanted to go
 VB: Who ever asked permission to land, whenever rescue operations were not going on, they were given permission. The day Modiji’s came, he met me, I thanked him, that day we did not allow anybody to get down from chopper. When Rahulji was here, that day rescue operations were not going on the helipads, where he got down at one place. Hence to make it a big issue, we have humbly thanked everybody who has helped us in this calamity. Where is the question of politics, media men came here, I sent them to Kedarnath, and our Home Minister was not allowed to get down at Kedar Nath. It is a question of the country, there are emergencies, exigencies, and operations were being conducted by air force, army and NDRF. Nobody felt bad, Modiji didn’t feel bad, this people spreading and printing ‘spicy’ news have made it an issue. But leaders understand and anybody of them has not complained to me.
PC: On Modiji’s behalf it was claimed, Modiji’s himself didn’t claim, that 15,000 Gujaratis were saved, if he would not have come, 15,000 Gujaratis would not have been saved, your state government would have been unsuccessful in rescuing, hence he rescued and took them. What is the element of truth in this? You should have full information.
VB: This is totally untrue. Their officers were here, the majority of people from Gujarat who were stranded in Badrinath, were taken care of by our state administration. And the total of number of people in Badrinath would not have been the number which is being said. Because, the total evacuation has been of 7000-8000 people tourists, hence the news that was printed is not based on facts. First of all such a thing is not possible, and so many people were not there in Badrinath, total evacuation in Badrinath in past 15 days has been 7000- 8000 people. Majority of people from Gujarat were in Badrinath.
PC: Kedarnath temple has been there since centuries, you said it will take three years to start Kedarnath yatra again, don’t you think your statement has impacted of so many people of India, is the state government so weak that it would take so much time to start yatra again.
VB: Firstly, I have not announced any timeline. See, tourism is our backbone of our economy. And today I can say that Badrinath, Yamonotry, Gangotri, in three months were will open roads, so that yatris can go there. Our hill stations of Mussorie, Almora, Nainital, they are open, there are no problems there. In Kedarnath, the debris if of 7-8 feet, and the walking track from Gaurikund to Kedarnath, that is completely damaged, not only damaged, it does not exist. Now we have to remove debris first, we are consulting GSI for that, because big stones have come there, an ASI team would go to see the damage happened to the temple, people from Wadia institute would go, now we have to strengthen the temple, build the surroundings, make road, we will work on war footing. There is nothing like three years, we would want it to happen as soon as possible. But we have to keep in mind people’s security and safety. We have to make infrastructure which addresses concerns of geological and environmental concerns. For this we need everybody’s help. Modiji told me that people of Gujarat and he wants to build the whole area, I told him humbly that Kedarnath is our identity, we will make it with ASI’s help, and that time that anybody from India, be it government or any organization, from the country or abroad, wants to help, we will accept it. We will open as fast as possible, and when we can ensure safety on Kedarnath route. We have good law and order, 61 per cent public of the state is overseen by revenue police, patwari police officer who is doing police work for the past 80-100 years. 
PC: How much time would you take
VB: I would want it to be done as soon as possible. Many clearances would be needed, there would be involvement of many ministries, central-state. Now we are not able to clear debris, open roads, there are problems in performing last rites dead bodies. When we remove the debris from temple surroundings, and when the team of experts arrives, we will leave it to them, we can provide wherewithal, money, but how the time schedule, program would be formed, that the specialists would decide. We leave it to the team. But we will request them so that Kedarnath yatra can be opened at the earliest. On the question of Pooja, we have spoken to saints-mahatma’s,
PC: Some internal party people are sabotaging things, there is division, some people who wanted to become chief minister earlier, but could not become. Different statements are coming from party. Opposition is demanding your resignation, there are hushed talks in Delhi that you have failed there, so much goods which come there are not being distributed, they are lying on road, hence it is an inefficient government there.
VB: The goods that are being distributed via government agencies is in ware houses. What private people are bringing, they do not consult the government, they go via their will. But supplies are happening from our warehouses, am monitoring things, doing video conferencing. And as are internal issues are concerned, which party is there in the country, where these issues are not there. And I can tell with confidence that we have done meeting with Congressmen, MLA’s, MP’s, our general secretary have come and congress is united in doing rescue works. There is no issue because of which our mind would be diverted or we digress from our aim of relief. The whole congress is together, as far as opposition is concerned, that is their free will to talk, but when they sit in front of us and talk, we will show them the appreciable work done by state government in two works, they have to accept that. Yes, there are difficulties, even today we cannot drop relief material via helicopters, man, horse reach there, weather is bad, but we have wherewithal, plan of action, only the weather should support us, in the coming times, I would invite you to come with your team, see how big was the calamity and to what extent we helped people. In politics what may or may not happen tomorrow is no issue today on which I am paying attention. I am focused on relief and rehabilitation, help.
PC: There are so many helicopters, planes in the country, everybody were ready, why didn’t your government and the central government deploy them for 24 hours, don’t you think that number of deaths would be less then.
VB: No deaths happened after the deaths which happened on the day of calamity. There is a limitation of helicopters, I told you, and helipads are small, five helicopters can enter in one valley, the state government took 16 helicopters on rent, and we couldn’t deploy our existing force because in Kedarnath, only one helicopter can land, only four helicopters can land in Badrinath, only two can go in Harsil. Hence, the kind of valley and helipads are there, and army helicopters are very big, cannot go everywhere, private choppers went, there was an aerospace team for air movement, it is not that if we had more helicopters, things would have happened faster, there is a limitation of air space, how many will enter an exit in a valley. Hence, people who talk of these things don’t have knowledge about air operations. And the kind of rough terrain, mountains, this is not Delhi to Bombay that aerodromes are there and 200 airplanes can stand. There are limitations, one has to sent fuel, how to supply fuel to the helicopter is stuck, when all roads were cut off.  One cannot walk 50 km in Uttarakhand, the way in which fuel was sent to helicopters, the way in which helicopters have flown. Work done by civil and air force pilots, they were dare devils, they have staked their life. Hence to say that if more helicopters were there evacuation would have been faster is not right. Because, when weather was not right, helicopters were not able to fly. Airspace was limited, hence we could only deploy the possible helicopters. And the whole operations were being controlled by air force. Hence, the feeling that people get is wrong that if more helicopters were deployed, then people would have been saved faster. Helicopters were standing as they could not be used. Even today, helicopter is standing in Darchula, Pithoragadh, even my helicopter is standing, but I cannot go because weather is not right.
PC: Sushma Swaraj has demanded your resignation
VB: She is leader of opposition, a respected leader.
PC: Sushmaji has demanded dismissal of government, will you oblige her or not.
VB: For BJP to demand resignation is a fashion. Be it of our country’s or state leaders. But when calamities struck Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, then Congress had shown character and did not say such a thing. You can say there are shortcomings, and I agree that there may be short comings, those short comings can be discussed after three months, toady lets together serve Uttarakhand, and provide relief to people, and do rehabilitation. Her demand is on her free will, but to speak this on such occasion is against political decorum.
PC: You will not resign
VB: Demanding resignation is their right, this is the domain of my party, my legislators, of public, if resignation is demanded in such manner and is given in such manner, then any government would not be able to be stable anywhere.